Tuesday, July 31, 2007

New Weakerthans Track

Download: Weakerthans - "Night Windows"

The Weakerthans were the band that moved me from punk rock to indie rock way way back in '98 via the Propaghandi connection. First loves are always important, so I was excited to see that they are touring a bit again this summer, including a date at the Triple Rock on September 25.

And now, here is a lovely mp3 that they let leak!

MySpace Page
(Ian Anderson)


Monday, July 30, 2007

Low Drums Guns On Daytrotter

Download: Low - "Breaker" (Live Daytrotter Session)
Download: Low - "Violent Past" (Live Daytrotter Session)
Download: Low - "In Silence" (Live Daytrotter Session)
Download: Low - "Sandinista" (Live Daytrotter session)

By which I mean that Duluth-based slowcore band Low stopped by Daytrotter to record a four-song session. Download those songs here or just click above.. They're absolutely stunning. All four songs are taken from this year's Drums and Guns.

(Jonathan Graef)

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Minus the Bear - Planet of Ice

Minus the Bear
Planet of Ice (Suicide Squeeze, 2007)
Grade: B+

Download: Minus the Bear - "Knights"
Download: Minus the Bear - "When We Escape"

Seattle-based Minus the Bear will be following up their killer hit Menos el Oso in three weeks with Planet of Ice, a complete knock out album as well as a glorious Hoth reference (if you don't know what Hoth is, look it up).

Planet of Ice picks up right where Menos left off, on planet awesome. Granted, there are few (three to be exact) Pink Floyd-esque diatribes that show off a bit more of a space-y side of the fellas, which is pretty cool, but it gets a bit old after the sweet segment turns into a jam. However, the songwriting and precision is inspired throughout the album.

Aaron Tate's drumming continues to surprise me and furthers my indie cred as I drop his name at shows as "no doubt the best drummer in Seattle." Jake Snider's voice is better than ever and continues to write great music to, well, do it to.

"Knights" is the clear bread-winner of the album and hopefully will be the single. However, "When We Escape" is my personal favorite. It possesses all of the great qualities of Minus the Bear, but a tad more aggressive.

Furthermore, this is Suicide Squeeze's press release that comes with the record, it's classically worded:

"For the past six years, Seattle’s Minus the Bear have orbited the music world like a distant meteor, fine-tuning their brand of indie rock and discovering how technology can help enhance the band’s unique pop vision – all of which is about to culminate with their latest full-length Planet of Ice, an album showing the band not so much transforming their sound as transcending it." - Suicide Squueze

Also! Here are their fast-approaching tour dates:

Sept 23 -- Spokane, WA -- Service Station
Sept 24 -- Missoula, MT -- The Badlander
(Minnesota date hopefully right here)
Sept 27 -- Detroit, MI -- St. Andrew's Hall
Sept 28 -- Cleveland, OH -- Grog Shop (Early)
Sept 28 -- Cleveland, OH -- Grog Shop (Late)
Sept 29 -- Pittsburgh, PA -- Diesel
Sept 30 -- Buffalo, NY -- Tralf Music Hall
Oct 1 -- Toronto, ON -- Opera House
Oct 3 -- Cambridge, MA -- Middle East Downstairs
Oct 4 -- Cambridge, MA -- Middle East Downstairs
Oct 5 -- Brooklyn, NY -- Warsaw
Oct 6 -- New York, NY -- Irving Plaza
Oct 7 -- Sayreville, NJ -- Starland Ballroom
Oct 8 -- Philadelphia, PA -- Theatre of Living Arts
Oct 10 -- Washington, DC -- Black Cat
Oct 11 -- Norfolk, VA -- The Norva
Oct 12 -- Atlanta, GA -- Variety Playhouse
Oct 13 -- Charlotte, NC -- Tremont Music Hall
Oct 14 -- Orlando, FL -- The Club at Firestone
Oct 15 -- Ft. Lauderdale, FL -- Culture Room
Oct 16 -- Tallahasse, FL -- The Moon
Oct 18 -- New Orleans, LA -- House of Blues

The album doesn't hit stores until August 21, but you can pre-order it here.

MySpace Page
(Ian Anderson)

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Friday, July 27, 2007

Blind Shake at the Entry - Tonight

Download: The Blind Shake - "Him In His Uniform"

The Blind Shake
Birthday Suits
Dad In Common

at the 7th St. Entry - 9pm - 21+

(Ian Anderson)


Live Review: St. Vincent - The Empty Bottle, Chicago, IL (7/23/07)

(Photo By Autumn Notter)

Click here to listen to St. Vincent perform on Minneapolis Public Radio.

Read Pitchfork's take on Marry Me here

I don't know where St. Vincent gets her dark side but god bless her for having it. It might seem easy to underestimate the negative emotions of Annie Clark's music - after all, she is a pixie-like 23-year-old with translucent skin and a penchant for writing jazzy, Beatles-esque melodies that skip around in your head the moment that you hear them.

But on the other hand, if we as listeners take for granted the fact that St. Vincent look so cute and non-threatening and that her music is so buoyant, it's probably easier for her to make her dark side much more subversive. That is, treating lines like the end of the refrain in "Now, Now" ("I'll make you sorry") or "Marry Me" ("We'll do like Mary and Joseph Did/Without The Kid") as throwaways, rather than direct threats. Furthermore, when she gets the crowd so involved in the show, as she did by having them clap the bossanova rhythm of "Human Racing," it becomes incredibly easy to be swayed by her charisma as a performer.

Then again, there was her introduction to her cover of "Bang Bang," in which she stated that the other side of love was murder. Before she got to that point, though, St. Vincent and her four-piece band (consisting of Clark on guitar, a bassist, a violinist, and a drummer) entered to a whimsical, ethereal instrumental in the style of the Beach Boys. From there, the group segued into a taut rendition of the waltz-like "Jesus Saves, I Spend."

It should be no surprise that an artist who creates an album as creative as Marry Me would re-arrange her weeks-old (at least, to the buying public at large) catalog, which she did with her next song, "Now, Now." On record, the bouncing guitar harmonics were recreated with a violin, giving the song an added bit of texture. The chaotic breakdown toward the song's end gave ample opportunity for St. Vincent to create a womb of sound, insulating the club with feedback and raucous noise.

From there, Clark went on to perform the title track of her album which, along with the "Across The Universe"-esque "All My Stars Aligned, is her most Beatles influenced song. Both songs were lovingly executed, with "Stars'" arrangement emphasizing the guitar more than on record.

But the 1-2 combo of "Your Lips Are Red" (the intro of which was made into a minimal, two-note punk riff) and "Paris Is Burning" were the highlights of the show, with the former devolving into a most unlikely marriage of prog-rock musicianship with Sonic Youth style feedback sprawl and the latter being flawlessly rendered.

Just when we in the crowd all thought it couldn't have gotten any better, St. Vincent took the stage and insisted that all the lights in the venue be turned off. She played a magical version of the Nico/Jackson Browne classic "These Days." If St. Vincent's not careful, her cover of a cover will become to her what Jeff Buckley's version of "Hallelujah" became to him.

Maybe it's not so much that St. Vincent has a dark side, rather that she doesn't like the negative or sardonic elements of her lyrics cloud the effervescence of her music. She certainly knocked us all out at the Empty Bottle with her grace and musicianship. But I don't think that any one would take anything, let alone her dark side, for granted after she gave us all such a great night worth of music.

(Jonathan Graef)

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Tonight! Special Multimedia Jenny Dalton Show At Bryant Lake Bowl Theater

Download: Jenny Dalton - "At Ease"

Jenny Dalton is playing a special multimedia show TONIGHT, July 27th, at the Bryant Lake Bowl Theater. The concert, sponsored by The Current, will consist of Minneapolis-based Dalton and her band playing songs from last year's debut release Fleur de Lily and will also showcase work from local film makers and artists. So get to the Bryant and support your local artists!

The show is an all-ages event, doors open at 7, and the show itself will be from 8 to 10. Tickets are $10 at the door and $8 in advance. Buy those tickets here.

Purchase Fleur De Lily here.

(Jonathan Graef)

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R. Kelly To Release Ten More Chapters of "Trapped In The Closet"

Because the world doesn't have enough problems, R. Kelly is gearing up to launch 10 more chapters of "Trapped in the Closet" on August 21st . For those of you unfamiliar with the series, it’s a rap soap opera about an absolute clusterfuck of cheating spouses, gay scandals and illegitimate pregnancies (you also can’t forget about pants-crapping midgets – ed.). The new installments will be released on DVD and available on the IFC website for streaming. Additionally, IFC will actually broadcast this mess on TV, probably because they really want their network to tank.

This quote from the Billboard should tell you everything you need to know about the sane nature of the new installments:

The new round of "Trapped" videos finds Kelly portraying an old man named Randolph, complete with a pot belly and a fake white beard that nearly falls off mid-scene, as well as a preacher in a gray Jheri-curl wig and garish orange suit. In one of the final chapters, Kelly's Sylvester character talks business with a "Sopranos"-esque mobster who is eating a giant plate of spaghetti.

I'm not going to enter into the details of the plot of the series so far, as I fear my head would explode from the shear force of inanity Kelly has unleashed, but I'd say it's worth watching. Make sure you have a drink in hand. You'll need it: the only way to fight the blinding stupidity of "Trapped in the Closet" is with an entire bottle of whiskey.

If you're feeling brave, you can view all the currently released episodes on YouTube Just search for "Trapped In The Closet." Or, just look below:

("Trapped In The Closet" Parts 1-5)

(Parts 5 and 6)

(Part 7)

(Part 8)

(Part 9)

(Part 10)

(Part 11)

(Part 12)

(April Wright)

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Be On The Cover Of The Hold Steady's Newest Single

Download: The Hold Steady - "Take Me Out To The Ballgame"

From the band's website:
The Hold Steady Needs Your Help
We're asking you to scan and send in BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOBOOTH photos of you and your friends to PHOTOBOOTH@VAGRANT.COM

We will use the photobooth pictures for the artwork on the forthcoming new single from The Hold Steady as well as in the marketing for the release.


We also need you to print this release form (it's a PDF) for EACH PERSON IN THE PHOTOS and SIGN THE RELEASE and scan in a lower-resolutiuon JPG.

The release form can be found here. Any guess as to what the next single will be? My vote is for "Southtown Girls."

(Jonathan Graef)

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Live Review: The Decemberists with the Grant Park Orchestra, 7/18/07

Download: The Decemberists - "I'll Come Running" (Brian Eno Cover, Live On Sound Opinions)

If there were a list of all the modern groups whose music lends itself well to orchestration, The Decemberists would be at the top of the list. The epic, literary, storytelling inherent in Colin Meloy's lyrics (especially with last year's triumphant The Crane Wife) and the ambitious prog-folk of The Decemberists should have proved to be a distinctly keen match of sensibilities. But due to a lack of imagination behind the orchestral arrangements, what could have been an incredibly special show turned out to be just ordinary.

My companion and I arrived at Grant Park around 5:45, about 45 minutes before the show was due to begin. The pavilion was completely full and the lawn areas around it were just starting to become cramped. Check out the picture below for an idea of how crowded it was:

(Photo By Autumn Notter)

We ended up finding a space near the outskirts of the pavlion, but others who showed up at 6:00 or 6:15 ended up walking around the home of the Grant Park Orchestra like Kane from "Kung Fu" or one of Romero's Dawn Of The Dead zombies.

(Photo by Autumn Notter)

By the time 6:30 rolled around, The Decemberists took the stage and opened with "The Crane Wife Part 2." The orchestration fitted the song perfectly, with the woodwind section complementing the main melody exceptionally well. The whole thing felt like an modern update to an epic score from Hollywood's 50s era heyday. If the melody to "The Crane Wife 2" wasn't soaring enough, the Grant Park Orchestra would have certainly have given it quite the boost. Instead, the song sounded like one great music body giving another great musical body an assist. It was an incredible start to what could have been a revelatory night of song.

Problem is that all of the orchestrations eventually started to sound like the same patois of Aaron Copeland and Old Hollywood Film Score. The set was varied, at least - each of The Decemberists albums got their due. But, as is the problem with a lot of rock band/orchestra collaborations, the orchestra got buried with the louder songs ("The Perfect Crime"). Still, "We Both Go Down Together" was one of the night's other successes. The REM-esque, minor-key chord progression providing ample opportunity for the orchestra to milk tension and resolution out of the dynamics in the song.

But after a while, repetition sunk in and most of the songs began to unfortunately blend together. So while The Decemeberists collaboration with the Grant Park Orchestra wasn't a disaster along the lines of Kiss performing with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, it wasn't quite enough to redeem the gimmicky premise of a rock group performing with classical musicians.

One last shot of the crowd:

(Photo By Autumn Notter)

(Jonathan Graef)

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27 Songs From "The Simpsons"

Download: Sonic Youth - "The Simpsons Theme"
Download: Green Day - "The Simpsons Theme"
Download: The Simpsons Theme - "Phillip Glass Homage"
Download: Yo La Tengo - "The Simpsons Theme"
Download: Danny Elfman/Alf Clausen - "The Simpsons Theme"
Download: Tito Puente And His Latin Ensemble - "Senor Burns"
Download: The Ramones - "Happy Birthday, Mr. Burns"
Download: Bart Simpson - "Do The Bartman"
Download: The Simpsons - "Monorail"
Download: The Simpsons - "Party Posse"
Download: The Simpsons - "Baby On Board"
Download: The Simpsons - "Mr. Plow Jingle"
Download: Homer Simpson - "It Was A Very Good Beer"
Download: The Simpsons - "Stonecutters Song"
Download: The Simpsons - "Stop The Planet Of The Apes, I Want To Get Off (Dr. Zaius)"
Download: The Simpsons - "The Presidents Song"
Download: Michael Jackson - "Happy Birthday Lisa"
Download: The Simpsons - "Everyone Hates Ned Flanders"
Download: The Simpsons - "The Softball Song"
Download: The Simpsons - "Union Strike Song"
Download: The Simpsons - "Kamp Krusty"
Download: The Simpsons - "You're Gonna Like Me (The Gabbo Song)"
Download: The Simpsons - "Can I Borrow A Feeling?"
Download: Hans Zimmer - "The Simpsons Theme" (Orchestral Version)
Download: The Simpsons - "Poochie Rap Song"
Download: The Simpsons - "The Ballad Of Jebediah Springfield"
Download: The Simpsons - "Cletus The Slackjawed Yokel"

In honor of The Simpsons Movie coming out tomorrow, I've decided to post a few (and by a few, I mean 27) of my favorite songs or bits of music that have been featured in the show over the years. My personal favorites are "Can I Borrow A Feeling?", "Happy Birthday, Mr. Burns" and "Stonecutters." What are yours?

(Jonathan Graef)

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New Tegan and Sara Video - "Back In Your Head"

Not as cool as the song, but oh well.

(Ian Anderson)


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

New Video from Liars

Check out this video for "Plaster Casts Of Everything," from the Liars' self-titled album which is due on August 28th via Mute Records.

(Jonathan Graef)

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Stream John Vanderslice's Emerald City

Download: John Vanderslice - "White Dove"
Download: John Vanderslice - "Tablespoon of Codeine"
Download: JJohn Vanderslice - "The Tower"

Along with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Tegan and Sara, the other big indie release was Emerald City by John Vanderslice. As of last night, you can stream all nine of the tracks from Vanderslice's album at his MySpace Page. After a couple of casual listens, I will say that this is a reasonably solid album. It's not floating any boats of mine (which, at my income level basically boils down to either proverbial or toy), but it's a pleasantly executed piece of melodic indie-pop revolving around the emotions of 9/11.

I think that the record's strongest sequence of songs are square in the middle of Emerald City and I have posted them here for your listening pleasure. Check out "Tablespoon of Codeine," one of Emerald City's highlights. It's a highly addictive, electronically enhanced, song.

(Jonathan Graef)

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Mike Gravel and Ron Paul Must Team Up To Destroy The 24 Hour News Networks...And This Playlist Will Be The Soundtrack

(Mike Gravel, South Carolina Debate, April 07)

(Mike Gravel Fucking Up Chris Matthews Old-School)

(Ron Paul Being Defamed By Fox News)

(Ron Paul, Reagan Library Debate)

Download: Black Sabbath - "The Mob Rules"
Download: Black Flag - "Rise Above"
Download: MC5 - "Kick Out The Jams"
Download: Minor Threat - "I Don't Wanna Hear It"
Download: Sleater-Kinney - "Combat Rock"
Download: Megadeth - "Peace Sells (But Who's Buying?)"
Download: Metallica - "Disposable Heroes"
Download: Metallica - "Leper Messiah"
Download: The Observers - "Symbols, Slogans, Lies"
Download: The Thermals - "A Pillar Of Salt"
Download: Public Enemy - "Party For Your Right To Fight"
Download: The Coup - "5 Million Ways To Kill A C.E.O"
Download: Dead Kennedys - "Holiday In Cambodia"
Download: Sonic Youth - "Youth Against Fascism"
Download: Big Trouble House - "Turn On The News" (Husker Du cover)

I’d hate to use MFR as my personal soapbox but, sweet merciful crap, after reading about the hype leading up to last night's first (annual?) CNN/YouTube Democratic Debate (read more here), I felt compelled to write down my thoughts and share them with you all; even if its just in this simple venue here. That, and post some raucously subversive music. It is an MP3 blog, after all.

First, some context: Sweet Jesus, I hate the 24 hour news networks. Simply put, if I wanted to be yelled at all day by a rotating cast of barely intelligible grown-ups, I would move back into my parents house and would intentionally forget my household responsibilities for an entire year. Because that's pretty much how I feel when I am watching either CNN or Fox News. Furthermore, if I wanted to be spoken to as if I had no idea that the thing 3 feet above my ass is actually my head (as I feel like the networks so often do, especially Fox), I would return to my kindergarten classroom. At the very least, I would get juice and nap-time--things which neither Glenn Beck nor Bill O'Reilly have offered me...yet.

Secondly, some more in-depth context: I am profoundly confused by America, specifically the way that America relates to its underdogs. There is a odd hypocrisy in the way we view underdogs. We, as a country, would have you believe that we value the Davids of the world (political or otherwise) and that we exude nothing but skepticism, at best, and contempt, at worst, toward the Goliaths. This fictional version of America is truly a meritocracy, a society where one is able to rise or fall by virtue of how much work and effort one wants to put in to achieve their dreams and goals. There are dreamers and idealists with the elbow grease and the ability to tell truth to power, but don't necessarily have the platform to express their views. So they have to fight, tooth and nail, in order to be heard. But once they are, the message catches on like wildfire. Soon, a grassroots campaign develops and more and more people sign on for, and approve of, the once-crazy underdog gains enough influence to persuade those who remain dubious that reform is in need and that the fatcats can't go on taking advantage of the good people anymore. The underdog triumphs, while BrownNose Q. Statusquoington skulks away. The underdog goes on to fight for the people he had to win over and the people who were by his side all along. Order is restored and there is justice for all as the underdog wins (you probably should have listened to Spoon as you read that last paragraph, what with the talk of underdogs and everything).

This phenomenon is known as every Frank Capra movie ever made and/or Paul Wellstone.

And yet, for all of the talk about, and idealization of, the underdog and the guys who have crazy ideas but, hey, hear me out, when they actually come along in the political arena, they're dismissed automatically as being...well, crazy. That's where the odd hypocrisy regarding underdogs comes in. Everyone wants to feel like they're rooting for the underdog, but no one actually ever does root for him/her. Or vote for him/her. Instead, they go with the candidate that looks and sounds the most reassuring and the candidate that seems like the kind of guy who you could just sit down and have a beer with.

That approach, as you well know, has done us a world of good over the past 7 years.

Considering that YouTube is one of the most egalitarian forms of media ever conceived, a debate format that consists of questions submitted by Joe Q. Sixpack's younger, nerdier, and more technologically adept brother (or sister) should have any presidential candidates shaking in their boots. It is the voter who is the underdog and, now, has the ability to directly address the people who are vying to represent him/her, ostensibly without fear of censorship or repercussion.

Except, naturally, not.

According to this Slate Article (scroll down to Monday, July 16th's post entitled "Is CNN Blowing It?"), CNN's editors picked which questions got asked. As opposed to a more democratic version, which would have meant that CNN/YouTube viewers would vote for the question they thought was the best. God forbid that something that's been advertising itself as groundbreaking and historical actually be groundbreaking and historical.

So we basically got the same questions that the talking heads on television (but, sadly, not The Talking Heads) ask, but smaller, blurrier, and most likely, wearing a snowman costume. Incidentally, the gentleman who asked about global warming while wearing a snowman costume was from Minneapolis. Well played, my friend. Well played.

It's come to this, the most cynical, transparent, attempt to latch on to the "kids" and what they do with their spare time these days. What other conclusion can I reach? The 24 hour news networks need to be taken down from the inside.

And Mike Gravel and Ron Paul are just the people to do it.

If you haven't already, watch the clips at the top of this post. It will make the rest of it much easier to follow.

The thing I like most about Sen. Mike Gravel (along with his views on the war and the fact that he is unafraid of criticizing the other candidates) is that I think that he is genuinely about a millimeter away from making like Al Pacino and yelling "I'm out of order? You're out of order! This whole courtroom is out of order!" a la ...And Justice For All

If you don't believe me, check out this Gravel quote from the debate last night:

...Zach asked about change. You're not going to see any change when these people get elected.

We were asked about -- that we're united.

We're not united. I'm not united on many of their views. And I want to take on Barack Obama for a minute, who said he doesn't take money from lobbyists. Well, he has 134 bundlers. Now, what does he think that is?

And, besides that, he has received money from a Robert Wolf, the head of the USB (sic) bank in the United States, who raised $195,000 -- from this bank -- wait a second -- who has lobbyists in Washington...

If you watch the video of him, he just gets more and more animated while he speaks (hence the Pacino comparison). Not only that, but he's the only presidential candidate crazy enough to make a 7 minute avant-garde art-film for his campaign that consists of Gravel staring into the camera, then throwing a rock into a lake. This is basically the closest we can get to having Jean-Luc Godard in the White House. I suggest that we take it.

Basically, Gravel is nuts and I love him for it.

I like Congressman Paul for many of the reasons that I like Gravel: his animation, his consistency on the war, and his non-reluctance to criticize those in his party. Paul is radically libertarian, which means that, as a liberal, I will be thrilled with half of what he does as a leader and will go into a conniption by the other half of what he does as a leader. We live in a time where there seems to be both too much government in our lives and not enough government in our lives. We have the IRS and the FCC unfairly dictating our incomes and turning adults into children by playing moral watchdog. And yet, the only feasible way for the crises regarding health-care and global warming to be solved is for the government to intervene. I'd be curious to see how someone like Paul handles that dynamic. He'd either be a savior or plunge us further into the darkness.

Because of their common attributes, and the fact that they are both genuinely underdogs (1 percent of the vote, holla!), I think that Paul and Gravel would be the perfect team to undermine the news networks.

For those of you wondering, Paul= good cop, Gravel = bad cop.

I'm not entirely sure what needs to transpire - I just have vaguely Bill Hicks-esque visions of Gravel ripping out Nancy Grace's still beating heart while Paul withdraws all troops from Iraq and abolishes the Department of Homeland Security while no one is looking. Either that, or Gravel whips out his samurai sword and chops off Wolf Blitzer's hand when he asks one of his asinine "Raise your hand if..." debate questions while Paul gets rid of the IRS and FEMA.

God only knows what will happen when those poor bastards get their hands on Hannity and Colmes and the rest of Fox News. I predict Gravel roundhouses Hannity right in the face, while Paul uses the Jedi mind trick on Colmes to get him to reveal Rupert Murdoch's secret volcano island hideout. Meanwhile, as Bill O'Reilly sneaks up on Gravel, ready to implement his kung-fu death grip on him, Paul spins and throws a ninja star right between O'Reilly's head.

So if this were Enter The Dragon, Gravel = Bruce Lee and Paul = John Saxon.

None of this will ever happen, obviously. Because of mass media, David is Golith and Goliath is David and back again. But still, you gotta root for the underdog, right?

So Sen. Gravel and Congressman. Paul, to you I say be who you are and kick out the jams. And by jams, I mean, of course, the cable news networks.

(Jonathan Graef)

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Monday, July 23, 2007

St. Vincent Live Tomorrow At The 7th Street Entry

Download: St. Vincent - "These Days" (Jackson Brown/Nico cover)
Download: St. Vincent - "Jesus Saves, I Spend"
Download: St. Vincent - "Bang Bang" (Live In Georgia)"

Many of you who have read this blog know how much I raved about St. Vincent's Marry Me a couple of weeks back. As it stands right now, the veteran of Sufjan Stevens's touring band/The Polyphonic Spree's debut solo album is in a Mexican standoff with Boxer and Hissing Fauna for album of the year.

I first heard of St. Vincent by watching her open for the Arcade Fire back in April. Since then, I've eagerly anticipated seeing her again in a smaller, more intimate, venue. I got that chance last night at Chicago's Empty Bottle and, wow, what a show. I will have a more formal review up either tomorrow or Wednesday, but let me just say that it was an amazingly awesome show. Annie Clark is insanely talented and has a sweet, darling charisma as a live performer. She, as well as her backing band, aren't afraid to re-arrange her barely existent catalog. One particular highlight was a lo-fi (of sorts) rendition of "Your Lips Are Red" that eventually evolved into a blend of prog-rock instrumental skills and post-punk groove.

But the best, absolutely incredible, part of the show was her encore, which was a cover of "These Days." She performed with the venue lights turned off. It was pitch black and was the most incredible thing to watch.

You really need to see St. Vincent live.

St. Vincent's show is tomorrow night at 7th Street Entry (701 First Avenue North) and the show is 21+. Doors open at eight and the opener is Scout Niblett. Buy tickets here.

This will be an incredible show, I promise.

(Jonathan Graef)

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Tegan and Sara - The Con

Tegan and Sara
The Con (Sire, 2007)
Grade: A-

Download: Tegan and Sara - "The Con"
Download: Tegan and Sara - "Burn Your Life Down"

Tegan and Sara are getting better with every album. After scoring with 2004's So Jealous, twins Tegan and Sara Quin exceeded all of the expectations that So Jealous hyped. To make The Con, the pair brought in a slew of heavy hitters, most notably Matt Sharp (The Rentals), Jason McGeer (drummer from Death Cab for Cutie), Hunter Burgan (AFI), Kaki King, and Chris Walla (Death Cab for Cutie). The album was recorded in Portland at Walla's studio and the production is just superb. Walla really brings out some interesting aspects of Tegan and Sara's songwriting that haven't made it to record previously.

Because I am a nerd, I was sure to pick up the deluxe version of the album, which also contains a two-hour documentary on the making of the album, which is totally worth it -- not to mention that in one scene, Walla is wearing a So Many Dynamos t-shirt, no joke. Furthermore, it is super fun to see how charming the whole crew is as well as how many ridiculous synths they used to lay this heaviness down.

Much of the album is spent experimenting in several two-minute spurts that, although are completely pop sensible, reveal a new side of experimentation and exploration ("I Was Married," "Relief Next To Me" and "Soil, Soil" for examples) that will really pay off down the road as these two grow as songwriters.

"The Con," "Back In Your Head," "Nineteen," and "Burn Your Life Down" could all be hits; four off the bat, not too shabby. "Burn Your Life Down" is my favorite track off of the album simply because of its irresistible outro and drive. Although I tend to lean towards Sara's songs as my favorites overall, Tegan levels the playing field on The Con with some earnest solid rockers. Note, this is obviously not a competition, this just provides for an overall cohesiveness on the album that didn't quit manifest itself in their past efforts.

The only weakness on the album rears itself in "Are You Ten Years Ago" when the band falls into a The Blow-esque trance that somehow brings out British accents in the two of them. The song pushes towards building a mood, but it lands somewhere that doesn't make a whole lot of sense in relation to the rest of the album. Granted, this only bumps the record from an "A" to an "A-" so it's not the worst mistake in the world.

"The Con" on the other hand, is the hot track that will carry the record to radio. Packed with heavy synth work and pop hook after catchy pop hook, it reflects on the rest of the album, which is pure pop gold.

MySpace Page
(Ian Anderson)

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Rilo Kiley - "The Moneymaker"

Download: Rilo Kiley - "The Moneymaker

I actually found this while surfing Perez Hilton for my daily dose of celebrity goss.

I fundamentally like the groove to this song, and I think Jenny’s voice is up to the radical change in style. But, the lack of musical variety on the verses translates to her just kind of following the bouncing ball lyrically. I don’t like it when singers very closely follow the guitar and bass with their singing (or vice versa), and there’s a whole lot of that in this song. I think it really limits the freedom and creativity of the song. That’s definitely the case here. The underlying beat of the song paired with Jenny’s pipes could have done something cool, but this falls pretty flat. Add the lyrics in on top, and this song is a pretty big disappointment. But still, for some reason, I cannot get it out of my fucking head.

Now, the video. So, this is an attempt to make it big, right? With the pornstars and Jenny looking hot (and changing costume every three seconds), I have a hard time believing there’s really supposed to be underlying artistic value or social commentary in it. It’s a grub to get the kind of attention other indie rock acts are getting. Rilo Kiley has been poised on the edge of hitting it big for a couple of years now. Maybe this’ll push them over the edge into mainstream popularity, maybe this video will be so over-the-top that it fails to catch. I honestly cannot predict what is going to happen with them.

Being that I’m so torn on this song, I’m going to give it two grades:

Artistic value (song construction, good lyrics, etc): C
Pop value (get out of my head!): B+

MySpace Page

(April Wright)

*300th Post!

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New Videos from Glorious Monster, The Changes

Download: Glorious Monster - "Photographs"
Download: The Changes - "Her, You and I"

Posted above is the new video from Minneapolis-based Glorious Monster for their song entitled "In The Movies" from their just-released debut album, Adventures On Earth. This video has some very intriguing animation which helps sugarcoat the fact that this is a sad, sad video.

Actually, Glorious Monster remind me a lot of a slowed-down, more ambient version of Chicago band The Changes. That band just released a new video for the song "When I Wake," which is taken from their last record Today Is Tonight. See the video for yourself by going to the Kitchen Ware Records webpage. From there, you can stream the video in the bottom right-hand corner.

Glorious Monster MySpace Page
The Changes MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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Star Tribune Features Reveille Magazine, MFR

Call me crazy, but this came out today. I was curious as to how the Star Tribune was going to get around saying "fucking," so I applaud their efforts. Oh, oh, also turns out that the Pioneer Press quoted me last week calling Wizard Rock a "novelty act." Pretty cool.

Star Tribune article HERE.

(Ian Anderson)


Liam Lynch's Lynchland Podcast

Download: Liam Lynch - "United States of Whatever"

Deranged comic genius Liam Lynch has always been one of my favorite entertainers. From "The Sifl & Olly" show, to "Clone High", everything the man touches is comedy gold. Except for that Sarah Silverman thing. That wasn’t very funny at all, but I can forgive it.

Lynch launched the "Lynchland" video podcast in 2006. I’m a little late coming aboard, but if the past release schedule can be extrapolated out at all, I would guess that there should be a new episode in the next week or so.

And you should download that shit as soon as he puts it out.

"Lynchland," while primarily a comedy podcast, features some of the funniest songs known to humankind. He’s much funnier than Weird Al, by simple virtue of being dirtier and more adult. Lynch channels and augments the absurdity that made (and still kind of makes) They Might Be Giants hilarious, and draws in even more weird concepts from all corners of his bizarre mind. Other than a few staple segments, every episode is completely different, and songs have such a diverse range of inspirations that you never know what’s next.

Lynch dapples in all styles-modern rock, folk, country, death metal, rap-with fluidity and ease. He’s not just some guy with a guitar and some funny lines: the man’s got skills. Part of the joy of watching his music videos and listening to his songs is realizing how well put together and cohesive most of them are. What’s more, Lynch’s songs are almost always put together on the fly or in a very short period of time, but they don’t feel rushed or neglected.

Since there are literally hours and hours of video to pour through, I've compiled a short list of the best of Lynchland's music videos.

The crowning glory of all comedy songs is undoubtedly the Museum Rap:

("Museum Rap," Liam Lynch)

“This Town Sucks,” “We’re All Stars” and “I’m Not Ready” can be enjoyed on the basis of being good songs, independent of any comedy value. “I’m Not Ready” is one of my favorite songs of the moment:

("This Town Sucks," Liam Lynch)

("I’m Not Ready," Liam Lynch)

("We’re All Stars," Liam Lynch with Dhani Harrison)

These last five are funny and cute and all, but not his best work:

("What's Up?," Liam Lynch)

("Gimme a Ride," Liam Lynch)

("Giddie Up Flash," Liam Lynch)

("The Movies," Liam Lynch)

("When We Sing," Liam Lynch and Alex Albrecht)

To subscribe to Liam Lynch’s podcast, go here

(April Wright)


A Sequel To The Big Lebowski?

Download: Bob Dylan - "The Man In Me"
Download: Kenny Rogers & The First Edition - "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)
Download: Gypsy Kings - "Hotel California"
Download: ZZ Top - "Viva Las Vegas"
Download: Creedence Clearwater Revival - "Lookin' Out My Backdoor"

Yes, according to this article on MTV's movie blog. It would seem that the talk regarding a sequel sprang from an interview that John Turturro did with ESPN the magazine. Behold the relevant quote:

ESPN: If the Coen brothers made a baseball movie, would it be better than the bowling movie?

Turturro: The Big Lebowski was a great movie. We hope to make a sequel. I can't talk about it, but it comes down to Jesus in the jumpsuit.

If this is the case, then I believe that it's the first proper sequel the Coens have ever done. I'm holding off excitement until I hear more concrete details. At the very least, I thought I would post some of the more iconic songs used in The Big Lebowski.

(Jonathan Graef)

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Three New Tracks From Liars

Download: Liars - "Sailing To Byzantium"
Download: Liars - "Protection"
Download: Liars - "Freak Out"

The last album by Liars, Drum's Not Dead was one of my favorite albums of last year. I loved its utterly unique use of drone and falsetto. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to their new album, called simply Liars, which comes out on August 28th. The band has posted three new tracks on their MySpace page or, if you'd like, you can sample the three tracks in this post. Either way, I'm super excited, as the songs are of a very high quality. This looks like it will be a top ten contender for the year end best. But we shall see. As mentioned before, Liars is due August 28th on Mute records.

(Jonathan Graef)

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2007 Pitchfork Music Festival

Download: Slint - "Good Morning, Captain"

Upon arriving via the Ashland bus to Chicago’s lovely and amazing Union Park for the first night of the second annual Pitchfork Music Festival, I found it awfully hard not to bust out my Nicolas Cage Fu Manchu impression from Grindhouse (“THIS IS MY MECCA!”). That said, imagining what Mecca will be and actually experiencing Mecca are two vastly different beasts. The main difference being that one never allows for disappointment and the other is wide open to it. While night one of the Pitchfork Music Festival had many, many memorable highlights, it was also unforgivably marred by sound difficulties, particularly during Slint’s and Sonic Youth’s sets.

The first night of the Pitchfork Music Festival set expectations so high that anything other than sheer musical nirvana would have been a disappointment. In collaboration with England’s “Don’t Look Back,” the first night of Pitchfork had three seminal acts performing their most well-regarded work: Post-Rock innovators Slint first went on to perform Spiderland in its entirety.

What elevates Spiderland to its classic status is the fact that its disturbingly quiet. The whole album sounds like the soundtrack to the greatest unwritten black-and-white cult horror film. That essential quality, however, doesn't exactly translate to a compelling live performance, at least from a showmanship perspective.

I was excited as anyone else to hear the band play--mine was amongst the many cheering the opening harmonics of "Breadcrumb"--but it was clear from note one that Slint were more engaged with each other, rather than engaging the audience. That made for compelling listening, to be sure. Slint transitioned flawlessly from waltz-time to 7/4 to back again, and the crunchy, cold and trebly instrumental tones and drones that defined the album were expertly created, with all the sonic subtleties in tact. The result was that music itself was epic and lo-fi at the same time.

However, Slint themselves were stoic. In addition, the sound was too quiet. It was quite disturbing to have crowd chatter threaten to drown out the band, especially on "Don, Amon." Still, the chilling music of Spiderland no doubt sent a shiver down the spine of all members in the audience, especially on "Good Morning, Captain" (gotta love the frantic cries of "I Miss You!".

Download: GZA - "Swordsman"

Next up was GZA of the Wu Tang Clan performing his classic solo release, Liquid Swords. I'm behind in my hip-hop education, so this live performance was the first time that I've heard any material from the record. But I am most definitely familiar with the Wu Tang Clan and hearing material from Liquid Swords made me think of what Jim Jarmusch said about the Wu Tang Clan's sound on the Ghost Dog: The Way Of The Samurai DVD: That the Wu Tang's sound is both beautiful and damaged.

I heard that quality in Liquid Swords all throughout Friday night. Also, I smelt a lot of weed smoke through the kung-fu string samples, jazz drum samples and bursting keyboard lines over rough drumbeats. The performance was one filled with humor and braggadocio and the show definitely got better as it went along. GZA showed that many years later, Liquid Swords and the Wu-Tang Clan are still nothing to fuck with.

Download: Sonic Youth - "Rain King"

Which leaves us with Sonic Youth, taking the stage to perform the entirety of its 1989 masterpiece Daydream Nation. What should have been a monumental occasion was marred by poor sound quality. The performance itself was fantastic. The band was energetic and passionate and was unafraid to re-tool some of the arrangements in their classic songs. "Silver Rocket," "The Sprawl" and "Total Trash" had their noisy jams extended and the band took ample opportunity to improvise noisy detours. However, the band also sounded like their sound was coming from a car stereo a mile away.

It took a lot of repositioning before my friends and I could hear the band at a loud level. Because of that it wasn't until "Cross The Breeze" that I could really get into the band's performance. Once I did, however, all effort on the listener's part was rewarded with spot-on renditions of "Candle," "Rain King," even "Providence." The best part was undoubtedly "Trilogy," particularly "Hyperstation." As sad as it is to hear a lyric like "we're daydreaming days in a daydream nation" still relevant after 20 years, it was thrilling all the same. Afterwards, Sonic Youth came on and did a three song encore of tracks from last year's Rather Ripped.

Download: Twilight Sad – “Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters”

I missed most of Twilight Sad's set due to the fact that the line for entering Saturday's show stretched on for almost two blocks. But I caught the last two or three songs and while I'm impressed with the barrage of distortion, canyons fill of reverb and angst-filled lyrics delivered with a thick Scottish brogue, the show itself seemed too monotonous for my enjoyment. It seemed like a wall-of-sound for the sake of having a wall-of-sound.

Download: Califone - "The Orchids"

Waiting for Voxtrot, I caught most of Califone's ethereal pop from far away. I was definitely digging their Beatles-esque melodies, mournful pianos and auxiliary percussion. It was music that was great for the mid-afternoon.

Download: Voxtrot - "Kid Gloves"

Speaking of music perfect for a summer afternoon, Voxtrot gave Pitchfork a solidly crafted set of twee-influenced indie-pop, with bittersweet minor chords and major melodies. The Austin, TX, quintet sung effervescently and effortlessly, giving a performance that had the audience spontaneously clapping up and down. Whether it was "Kid Gloves" or "Brothers In Conflict," the group combined the herky-jerkyness of They Might Be Giants with the piano-based material of Billy Joel and Ben Folds. Their bouncy grooves was definitely enough to make one Ian Anderson slap me five after the closing notes of their set. Come to think of it, the entire show felt like a huge high five from Voxtrot to the audience.

Download: Grizzly Bear - "Deep Sea Diver"

Next up were Grizzly Bear, with their atmospheric, whirring guitar tones, soaring vocals, booming drums and echo-drenched vocals. The music was perfect for the afternoon in a way that's totally opposite of Voxtrot. If Voxtrot is the band for those who use afternoons in their spare time to go do active things outside, then Grizzly Bear is the band for picnic-ers looking for a more contemplative time. Their layered sound made for a relaxing listen.

Download: Beach House - "Apple Orchard"

Beach House went on about 10 minutes after Grizzly Bear, so I only caught the tail end of their set. But as has been well-documented before, I am fan of the shoegaze influenced music, so I enjoyed the combination of the more ambient, keyboard-based of My Bloody Valentine style with Beatles-esque melodies. It was breezy, quiet music with soft, electronically enhanced drums and a delicate soprano. If Kevin Shields had developed his instrumentals for Lost In Translation, then they'd might have sound like Beach House (only with more harpsichord).

Download: Battles - "Leyendecker"

Shattering any contemplative mood set forth by Grizzly Bear and Beach House, Battles put forth an insanely intense set filled with fractured soundscapes, unrelenting drumming and polyrhythmic clusters of sound. The band as a whole sounded like a psychotic beatbox, filled with feedback and math-rock and manipulated sounds. Most of Battles music is driving by manipulated vocals. Guitars sounded like a theremin, amongst other out-of-this world sounds. Not only that, but the band expertly changed tempos and dynamics at the drop of a hat. All in all, a very intense performance filled with unique sonic experimentation.

Download: Iron and Wine - "Boy With A Coin"

Iron and Wine took the stage, then, as prophesied, was crucified by a radical group of Toby Keith fans and ended up dying for their sins.

Wait, a minute, that doesn't seem right.

Ah yes, what Iron and Wine really did was play a boat load of new material from his upcoming The Shepard's Dog album. The new material sounds similar to old stuff, but with a fuller sound. Credit that to a host of new musicians adding haunting pedal steel guitar lines, xylophone, violin and electric guitar. At times, the new songs conjured up a more mellow, old-school country influenced version of southern rock I think that the Woman King EP was a bit of a foreshadow as the what this new LP will offer fans. At any rate, Iron and Wine played in a fashion that resembled his set at Lollapalooza; that is, incorporating new songs into a set of reworked old favorites. Definitely an enjoyable set and not only that, but he encored with a solo rendition of Radiohead's "No Surprises."

Download: Mastodon- "Bladecatcher"

One of the biggest crowdpleasing sets of the day easily belonged to Mastodon (the other you'll read about right after this one). From masterful Blood Mountain numbers like "Crystal Skull" to the thunderous, monumental closing notes of "Blood and Thunder," Mastodon's set was nothing if not a triumph. Or, to use metal-friendly, if not exactly enlightened, terminology, it was fucking sweet. Judging by the mushroom cloud of of baseball diamond dirt and flying bottles of water that magically rose up from the pit, the crowd was very into it as well. And into it they should have been. Mastodon had enough polyrhythmic insanity to satisfy die-hard musicians and metal fans, but enough huge choruses and epic melodies to bring everyone else along as well.

Download: Clipse - "Keys Open Doors"

The other crowdpleasing set of the day belong to minimalist coke-rapper brothers Clipse. The duo's give-and-take with the crowd was remarkable on several occasions, including on "Keys Open Doors." Rap has a lot in common with metal, in regard to the fact that in order to get to the good stuff, you have to sift through a lot of garbage, and that both genres are unfairly maligned by people who've never spent any of their time actually listening to the music. But only Sourpuss McGhee would have not enjoyed Clipse's set, which consisted of the hits from their Hell Hath No Fury, as well as more obscure cuts from their We Got It 4 Cheap mixtape series. What I really enjoyed about Clipse was hearing their voices give out. It meant that they were truly trying to give the audience as much as they could give and revel the desperation in their lives via a raspy roar or a calmer, smoother flow. They also apologized for the long gap in between albums, but reassured the P4K attendees that a flurry of new Clipse projects were on the way and that they were competing so fiercely because "we just think we're better, that's all." After Saturday's performance, it would be tough to argue otherwise.

Download: Cat Power - "I Don't Blame You"

To be honest, I was a little bit disappointed by Cat Power's performance. Her backing musicians, The Dirty Delta Blues band, gave a fantastic show filled with nuanced blue-eyed soul. Cat Power herself, however, is just too neurotic of a stage presence. She kept on apologizing for the sound quality (she was mixed too quietly, granted, but constantly fretting about it won't make matters better). It seems that for all of the progress she's made in her personal life (and good for her for doing so) she's been unable to fully shake off her legendary stage fright.

However, as a singer, she's made a great amount of progress, particularly when it came to her lower range. She really belted it out over the band's Hammond organ, thumping bass lines, bluesy guitar licks and a shuffling drumbeat and the result was something akin to slow-burn soul. Still, I only recognized the songs she played from The Greatest (The slowed down but beefed up version of "The Moon" was a highlight) and her cover of "Satisfaction." I don't know if she has a new covers album coming out but it would have been nice for her to throw us a bone or two, or at least take a deep breath before she goes out on stage.

Download: Yoko Ono - "Kiss Kiss Kiss" (Ft. Peaches)

The prospect of watching Yoko Ono made me incredibly nervous, which no doubt was caused by her unfair vilification by nostalgia-blinded baby-boomers. Not only that, but the only frame of reference I have with Ono is how she was spoofed on "The Simpsons" ("I'd like single a plum floating in perfume in a man's hat").

Needless to say, I was eagerly anticipating her set.

From a historical and sociological perspective (she was, after all, a frequent collaborator of John Lennon's), Ono's set was fascinating. Ono plays so rarely that I absolutely had to watch, even if other people bolted the moment she started singing. I don't blame them. I didn't enjoy the music at all. Ono's material sounded like someone having a nervous breakdown to alt-rock influenced disco.

But here's the thing: As a performer, she's dreadful. But as a person, she's insanely intriguing. Plus, how can you be mad at a 74-year-old (74! I hope I can still rock out at 74!) woman whose entire artistic ethos is based on being adamant about the fact that she loves you? I know I can't, even if her singing sounded like a goat being strangled by Sylvester Stallone.

Eventually, Ono's performance turned into an epic battle of wills after the mass exodus of people who didn't want to be subjected to Ono's constant WaaaAAaa! WaaAaaAa! WAaaaAAAA!-ing. I had to get closer. After all, I had to answer this question myself: how does one get into Yoko Ono?

"Oh, man, the way she phrases that lyric "WAAAA! WaaaAAAAAaaa! Confusion! Confusion! WAaAAaAA!" just cuts to my very soul. I can totally relate!"

Naturally, once we got closer to Ono, she adopted a more traditional singing technique. Go figure. But still, I couldn't help but be moved by her chanting of "War is over (if you want it!)." It's odd that, for all of the avant-garde trappings of her music, the most relevant statement was the one that was the most direct.

I guess words sometimes are the best weapon.

Download: Deerhunter - "Strange Lights"

It was weird to walk up to the gates and see the festival grounds so empty (especially a day after the two-block long wait-a-thon) for Deerhunter's opening set. But hey, it's their loss. The Athens-based band played a rousing set of noisy, ambient psych-pop (the psych standing for psychedelic and psychotic) and it was quite a sight watching singer Bradford Cox undergo a symbolic metamorphosis on stage. The juggernaut of guitar fuzz and echo-y falsetto chants made for a stirring combination.

Download: The Ponys - “Poser Psychotic"

I would have enjoyed The Ponys' brand of garage-rock psychedelia had they not kept having sound problems. First, it was a self-described "bass crapout" (there's a band name if I ever heard one) and then there was an even larger, more universal, sonic crapout when the monitors went out on The Ponys. The sound eventually recovered, and the band acted professionally about it by playing more songs from their quite good "Turn The Lights Out." Renditions of "Double Vision" and "Poser Psychotic" were spot-on.

Download: Menomena - "Gay A"

Sorry, kids. Still not a Menomena fan. But their engaging, multi-tasking live performance definitely made me re-evaluate them. I guess what did it for me is the fact that all of their cutesy production clutter got cut down to the essentials. What I was genuinely surprised by was how groove-filled Menomena was. Their singer has some serious bass-playing skills. On tracks like "Wet and Rusting," the band manage to interweave harmonies deftly and handled instruments with great grace as well. Even though I didn't like Friend And Foe, I enjoyed the band's set.

Download: The Sea and Cake - "Up On Crutches"

If there hadn't been a cool breeze in the air during The Sea and Cake's set, then the band themselves could have easily provided one via their music. Playing most of the songs from their most recent set, and straightforward, Everybody, the group aptly played off each other with chiming, poppy guitar chords, smooth bass lines and singer Sam Prekop's soft, airy tenor. I'm reluctant to call the band "thinking man's easy listening" because of the connotations of that phrase, but that's the best way I can describe their music. However, The Sea and Cake also like to stretch things out, to the degree where I'm really surprised that this band hasn't been embraced by the Bonnaroo crowd yet. At the very least, the hometown crowd at Pitchfork strongly appreciated the band.

Download: Stephen Malkmus - "PostPaint Boy"

Even if Stephen Malkmus had brought out himself and Bob Nastanovich for just one song (which he did, and they played "Trigger Cut" amongst other favorites from Slanted & Enchanted, the set would have been a triumph. But we also got many, many more songs in what was truly (until Bob showed) a solo set. It's appropriate that Malkmus embraced the summery aspects of the festival. After all, he once described his old band, Pavement, as a California-ized version of The Fall. With just an acoustic guitar and his old, sarcastic self, Malkmus turned in a charming set.

Download: Of Montreal - "Suffer For Fashion"

One of the festival's highlights, easily, was of Montreal's set, if only for the elaborate costume changes (Kevin Barnes in a g-string was one of the more interesting sights of the day) and surprising Kinks encores (they covered "All Day and All Night"). Of Montreal started off with a "wow" rendition of "Suffer For Fashion" and then preceded to knock the socks of every audience member flat on their asses. The bands kaleidoscopic combination of new-wave, glam, disco and psychedelia paid rich sonic dividends. The band also debuted a new tune, "Softcore," to rousing acclaim. Of Montreal also get credit for busting out the Hissing Fauna epic "The Past Is A Grotesque Animal" and reveling in all of its uncomfortable emotions, then switching things up by tossing out gold-covered footballs into the crowd. Any rock show that effectively combines humor and pathos deserves nothing but the utmost praise.

Download: New Pornographers - "Entering White Cecilla"

Speaking of the utmost praise, I would have offered anybody a million dollars if they could have found a frowning face during The New Pornographer's set. The heavenly harmonies of "Use It" carried out through the festival ground and the band's effervescent beats kept the crowd dancing throughout the entire set. If melodies were a natural resource, then The New Pornographers consumption of them would rival America's consumption of actual natural resources. The group also played many songs from the upcoming Challengers disc and surprise, surprise, they managed to match up against classics like "The Bleeding Heart Show" and "The Slow Descent Into Alcoholism." Well done, New Pornos. Well done.

Download: De La Soul - "Buddy"

Last were mid-school hip-hop legends De La Soul. I only stayed for a little bit of their set, but I got down and smiled when they referenced A Tribe Called Quest. All in all, it was a great end to a festival that, for all the sound bumps in the road there were, still qualified as one of the best that the US has to offer devout music fans.

(Ian Anderson and Jonathan Graef)

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